Xbox head leaving Microsoft for Zynga

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Kotaku has just reported that Don Mattrick, the head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, is leaving the company. He is apparently moving over to Zynga, to take up “a top leadership role”.

Mattrick was the face of the disastrous Xbox One reveal in May, which has been followed by a near-constant barrage of bad publicity ever since. Fans responded badly to the console’s requirement for an always-on internet connection, its TV-centric features, the possibility that Microsoft was going to complicate second-hand game sales with a brand-new draconian digital rights management scheme and the Kinect 2.0’s potentially privacy-invading always-listening features, among other things. Even Microsoft’s infamous 180 on these controversial policies was not enough to stem the tide.

Mattrick’s leaving, then, comes at a rather curious time. With so much negative sentiment around the gaming console he helped develop, it’s not impossible that he is either being forced out of the company, or is choosing to jump ship. Zynga is in a bit of trouble itself, so it’s hard to see the wisdom of the move, but perhaps Mattrick knows things we don’t.

Interestingly, he isn’t the first person to leave Microsoft on the back of widespread criticism. Steven Sinofsky, the ex-head of the Windows division, departed shortly after the launch of Windows 8 on 26 October, 2013 after a similar uproar about the dramatic  changes to the popular operating system.

The plot, she thickens. More news as we get it.

Deon du Plessis

Deon du Plessis

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.

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